Rotterdam, Netherlands-based architecture and Urban design practice, MVRDV has won the competition to design and redevelop the water network for a Taiwanese town’s entire water network. As the winning design for the large-scale renovation of Huwai’s Beigang river and Anqingzhen waterways, the project as selected by the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Taiwan combines a strategic master plan and a landscape design and also features a comprehensive strategy for flood resilience while improving the quantity and quality of available water. Another one of its proposals includes modernizing the town’s waterway network and this will be achieved by abandoning the monofunctional approach which manages and directs water.

Competition to Design the Master Plan for Taiwanese Town’s Water Network wins MVRDV - Sheet1
Aerial view of the new Huwai water system (image by MVRDV)_

Since the inland town of Huwei with around 70,000 people is located around a 19th-century sugar factory that is still in operation and along the Baigang river, the Water factory project will both consolidate as well as improve the city’s water cleaning capabilities which will lead to the creation of a new park and numerous urban spaces connecting to the waterscapes. These will feature long cycling paths, especially for bicycles, waterfront viewing platforms, and sports fields that will all be used by the citizens. Currently, the factory grounds along with the dike built to protect the town from floods form a highly significant barrier between Huwei and the Beigang river. The town suffers from water pollution due to its rampant urban and agricultural growth and because of this, it is not prepared for more extreme floods and droughts that will come as a result of climate change. Therefore, the Beigang river park changes its character to adapt to the neighboring town districts and at the same time considering the foreseen and expected frequency of floods at numerous distances from the river.

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The new park spaces and urbanscapes created will connect people to the waterfront while featuring cycling paths. (image by MVRDV)_

According to MVRDV’s founding partner in charge Winy Mass, there will be a combination of aquatic interventions with mobility and cultural attractions and the embarkments of the river and canal will be opened to the town. The water buffers will help reduce runoff while increasing biodiversity to keep up with climate change and so the design offers accessibility to leisure spaces and cultural places hence generating a meaningful connection between people and nature.

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The Beigang river park area will host viewing platforms and sports fields to increase leisure activities (image by MVRDV)_

The MVRDV master plan centers around the transformation of an already existing flood detention pond located in the southern part of the city’s core and here, the aim is to set up a new ecology hotspot and a system that harvests rainwater while controlling flooding at the same time. Anqingzhen Waterland, Pinghe lake, and Beigang river park are the three zones included in the plan and for the anticipated influx of extreme weather events, these will serve as a buffer. The design also seeks to purify Huwe’s heavily polluted Anqingzhen channel.

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The Anqingzhen channel will be cleaned and naturalized to create park space open to the public (image by MVRDV)_ 

The design focuses on five goals and some of these include the resilience, culture, connectedness, ecological, and feasibility of the Huwei water system given that it is expected to be completed as early as 2026. It also proposes an addition of a series of localized and naturally cleaned water buffers all throughout the city majority of which will be placed on larger, publicly owned sites like schools so that they can easily monitor their implementation. Another one of its focuses is to purify and naturalize the Anqingzhen Waterland which is an irrigation canal that runs through and in places beneath the town. This channel has come to serve as a polluted and smelly wastewater drain hence being one of MVRDV’s focus points. When the canal is cleaned and naturalized, it will provide the opportunity of discussing the opening of the portions of the factory that are not used and the creation of a park space in the heart of the town and this will see the Anqingzhen Waterland return to its former glory as an important space for leisure activities in the city.

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The new Huwai water system is aimed at being ecological, cultural, resilient, connected and feasible. (image by MVRDV)_

The MVRDV master plan also elaborates on two more zones in addition to the Beigang river park. The Anqingzhen Waterland shows how a naturalized channel can become part of a forested park in the zones of the Sugar factory premises, zones that are not used. The city-wide flood control system is designed to purify, retain and even reuse rainwater for both leisure and biodiversity. The water levels in the channel will vary depending on the seasons which will create small islands that will offer and aid in various leisure activities.

The Pinghe Lake design’s proposal suggests that what is currently a flood detention pond can become an ecology hotspot and also a destination on the edge of the city for walkers and cyclists. The Hoowave water factory will prioritize water quality and health as well as culture and economy. There will be improved infrastructure and healthy cultural amenities which will make the river landscape more attractive and link the city to the natural environment including all the benefits that come with this kind of linkage.

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The Pinghe Lake design is meant to turn a flood detention pond into an ecology hotspot and a destination for walkers and cyclists. (image by MVRDV)_

References (n.d.). A water factory in Huwei: MVRDV wins competition to modernise a Taiwanese town’s entire water network. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2023]. (n.d.). MVRDV – Hoowave Water Factory. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2023].

ArchDaily. (2023). MVRDV Wins Competition to Design the Master Plan for a Taiwanese Town’s Water Network. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2023].

World Architecture Community. (n.d.). MVRDV wins competition to redevelop Taiwanese town Huwei’s entire water network. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2023].

Anon, (2023). MVRDV Wins Competition to Renovate Hoowave Water Factory – [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Jan. 2023].